The untold truth of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home

Long before HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home premiered, viewers watched as Jed Clampett struck oil in classic TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. The first thing he did? Buy a fancy new mansion, of course. The same pattern is usually seen with folks who play the lottery and hit the jackpot. Recognizing this, HGTV came up with the genius idea to transform this phenomenon into a TV series, launching My Lottery Dream Home in 2015. As host, the network tapped HGTV veteran David Bromstad to guide lucky lottery winners through the process of finding their ultimate dream homes. “The series follows David as he and his instant-millionaire clients tour three spectacular properties to find them their forever home,” notes HGTV’s synopsis.

As viewers quickly recognized, Bromstad was ideally suited to shepherd these suddenly wealthy winners through the process. “When it comes to spending a million bucks, I’m your man,” quipped Bromstad in an HGTV press release. “Six numbers change these winners’ lives forever, and I live for taking them on the search of a lifetime to find their dream home.”

The show clearly resonated with viewers, yet there’s a lot that fans may not realize about this HGTV hit. Keep reading to discover the untold truth of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home.

Why the first season of HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home was its most challenging

Launching any new TV series is replete with challenges, yet for HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home those obstacles were even more daunting, and for a very good reason: People who have just won big bucks in the lottery may not be eager for the kind of attention brought by reality television. This initially made casting the show somewhat tricky.

“Lottery winners don’t really need the exposure and they don’t need the money to participate,” Mike Krupat of 7Beyond, the production company that produces the show, explained to Mediaweek

According to Krupat, the series’ first season was easily its most difficult when it came to finding people willing to take part in the show. “We reached out to close to 1,000 lottery winners and we got 10 to appear on our first season,” he said. After My Lottery Dream Home was on the air and winners could see what the show was all about, casting became significantly easier. “Once other winners saw the show and how it was about wish fulfilment and making people’s dreams become a reality, people were more willing to take part,” added Krupat.

HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home delivered "stellar" ratings for HGTV

HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home has consistently been a ratings winner for the network. In a 2018 press release, HGTV boasted that 15.7 million viewers had tuned in for that season, while ratings for subsequent seasons grew even bigger. The 2018 season premiere, in fact, set a new ratings record when 3.3 million total viewers watched. This, HGTV pointed out, was not only the series’ highest-rated season premiere to date, it was also the highest-rated episode of My Lottery Dream Home ever.

The show’s success was no fluke. The 2019 season, claimed a subsequent press release, likewise delivered “stellar ratings,” with viewership being even higher. In fact, more than 23.2 million total viewers watched the show that year, which was more than ever before. 

Television ratings only tell part of the story, though. My Lottery Dream Home has also been a strong source of entertainment on other platforms beyond traditional television. According to HGTV, in early 2020 the series was “the [second] most-streamed show” on the network’s streaming service, HGTV GO. The show also performed well on social media, with the January 3 episode generating more than 270,000 views on HGTV’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

A couple who appeared on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home used to watch the show before hitting the jackpot

When Brian Kutz and wife Tuk won $200,000 from a scratch-off ticket, they wanted to use the money to buy a new home — and they wanted David Bromstad to help them do it on HGTV’S My Lottery Dream HomeMy wife and I had always watched that show before we won the scratch ticket,” Brian Kutz shared with the HeraldNet of Everett, Washington. “I used to joke we’d have David find us a house if we ever won.”

When he reached out to producers, Kutz received a quick response. A few months later, the Kutzes received a visit from Bromstad, camera crew in tow. While $200,000 isn’t that much to work with, Bromstad was able to help lead the couple to their Victorian-style “forever home” on Washington’s picturesque Whidbey Island. 

Kutz said he found the long days of filming to be grueling, and revealed he got a crash course in some of the more unreal aspects of reality TV. According to the newspaper, Kutz admitted he wasn’t prepared for the number of times he had to walk into the same room and look surprised.”

David Bromstad revealed the process a lottery winner goes through on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home

What viewers of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home see on the screen is only part of what takes place. In an interview with TV Insider, David Bromstad described the process a lottery winner goes through during the course of an episode, from his perspective. When he first meets the winners, Bromstad explained, he “kind of” knows the bare bones of their back story but tries not to learn much more ahead of time because “I like to keep it really fresh.”

After the winners tell him what they’re looking for and how much money they’ve won, Bromstad spends some time with them “when cameras are off.” It’s then, he added, when “I really get into the nitty gritty of what they want, where they want to be, what I can look for, what I can’t — we can only put so much on TV.” 

In terms of how much advice he gives, Bromstad says that varies from person to person. “I give them as much as they want to hear,” he said, noting that some people tell him, “Please give me information, I want everything you can.”

Not all of the lottery winners on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home want extravagance

The big lure for viewers of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home is the spectacle of watching average folks who’ve just won a windfall take off on a real-estate shopping spree in search of an opulent, over-the-top new home. However, as fans of the show are well aware, that doesn’t always prove to be the case. “It all depends on how much money they’ve just won,” host David Bromstad told the New York Post. “Some people are living paycheck to paycheck and they’re pretty smart, like, ‘Wow, I’m 35 years old and I’ve just won a million dollars — it’s going to change my life for the moment but I’ve got to be smart about it.'”

Just as there’s no one particular type of home that lottery winners are looking for, nor is there one specific type of lottery winner. “They’re younger, they’re older,” Bromstad explained. “We had a gentleman who won $4 million who was in his late 20s and wanted to be a landlord. Older couples are frequently looking for a retirement home for the rest of their days. It really runs the gamut.”

Host David Bromstad revealed the weirdest request on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home

HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home host David Bromstad considers himself a sounding board and adviser to the people he guides through the show. “It’s always nice to have someone who’s not really part of their lives, an outside source, to come in without any great emotions while listening to what they’re looking for in a home” he told the New York Post of his role on the show.

While Bromstad does his best to offer wise counsel, sometimes he finds himself working with someone who’s looking for something a bit on the bonkers side. Asked to pin down the “weirdest item” he’s encountered on a winner’s wish list, Bromstad told AOL, “The most bizarre was a guy who wanted a lot of bathrooms in the Hamptons. You know, ‘We’re in the Hamptons, so we want lots of bathrooms!'”

The most surprising thing Bromstad has learned from fulfilling winners’ requests is how many of them look for homes near family members. “That is 100% the biggest thing,” he divulged. “A house could be in the middle of nowhere, and they always stay close to family. That was something that really surprised me. It’s all about family.”

HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home isn't the first show David Bromstad hosted

David Bromstad’s path to hosting HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home was far from typical. As the network’s longtime viewers will recall, Bromstad first came to HGTV as a contestant on the first season of Design Star in 2006, competing against other hopefuls for the opportunity to host an HGTV show. Bromstad was the show’s first-ever winner, which led him to be hired to host HGTV’s Color Splash

As Bromstad’s IMDb page details, that gig led to more hosting jobs with HGTV. Next up were a couple of specials, HGTV Dream Home 2007 and The Ultimate Color Guide, along with an appearance on HGTV Showdown. Then he was tapped to host the short-lived Bang For Your Buck, which ran for just one season, before hosting HGTV miniseries Beach Flip

When the opportunity arose to host My Lottery Dream Home, Bromstad had become a seasoned HGTV veteran with several years of experience in front of the camera. “Whenever people call me a star, I think it’s weird,” Bromstad admitted in an interview with HGTV. “I go, ‘No, I’m just a person with a cool job.”

David Bromstad may be the host of HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home, but he doesn't play the lottery

After meeting all those winners on HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home, surely David Bromstad must be tempted to pick up the occasional ticket himself in hopes of hitting the jackpot. “No, I do not play the lottery because I’ve already won the lottery,” he told The Wrap, explaining that HGTV’s competition series Design Star was “my lottery.”

In fact, Bromstad admitted he’s “generally not a very lucky person.” He told the publication, “It’s hard for me to spend $30 on a scratcher, or $20, or even $10 on a few scratchers. … I’d rather buy canoes.”

However, that’s not to say Bromstad hasn’t been tempted, which was the case when the Powerball’s potential jackpot rose to nearly $1.6 billion. As he told AOL, he found himself “in the middle of nowhere filming when it was going on, so I figured I might as well buy a ticket at every gas station I went to — I bought $100 worth of tickets.” Asked what he would have done had he won the $1.6 billion, he quipped, “I would’ve dropped the mic and said ‘Peace out, b******!’ No one would see me ever again.”

One homeowner contacted by HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home thought it was a prank

A realtor who helped HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home pair some lottery winners with their dream homes revealed that when HGTV contacted the owner of a Syracuse, New York house the winners were looking at during their home search, the seller “actually thought it was a joke,” realtor Erica Laquidara told Utica radio station Big Frog 104. “But they showed up.” Ultimately, said Laquidara, the home was sold — but not to the lottery winners, who decided to instead buy another home in the area. 

Guiding these newly wealthy folks to the right home is no easy feat, as Bromstad explained to AOL. “It’s hard to fulfill because they’re still starry eyed about winning millions of dollars,” Bromstad admitted. “When it comes down to style and location, though, it’s hard to get what they like or what they want out of them.”

The trick, added Bromstad, is to “get the most possible information out of them as I can.” He continued, saying, “That’s probably the hardest part, honestly, is trying to figure out their style and showing them things that keep us viewer-conscious.”

HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home's biggest winner hit a $180-million jackpot

There may be some HGTV shows you totally forgot about, but HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home is memorable — especially that pilot. The lottery winners who appeared in the show’s debut episode, Rick and Lori Knudsen, had won more money than anyone who’d ever appeared on the show: a whopping $180 million.

According to the Wall Street Journal, host David Bromstad ultimately steered the Knudsens to a not-then-completed home listed for a relatively modest $5.8 million. As for the part of the home that was constructed, it was not too shabby. Features reportedly included a “17-seat movie theater and garage fit for a car collector.” Meanwhile, the Knudsens ponied up “millions more” for an adjacent property: a 155-acre buffalo ranch. The Wall Street Journal estimated that the couple spent about $11.5 million of their $180-million windfall on the properties — and the following year bought homes for each of their five children.

“They bought a mountain!” joked Bromstad to the Los Angeles Times. “The home was magical, very chic; it looked like a ski lodge — breathtaking. But as big as it was, it was very cozy…”

One homeowner had a heartwarming reaction to his home being featured on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home

A 2019 episode of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home focused on a man named Michael, who won $100,000 from a scratch-off ticket — and then five weeks later won $750,000 on the lotto. With that kind of luck, it was a no-brainer that the show’s producers immediately put Michael on speed-dial.

As North Carolina’s WCNC reported, Michael used some of his winnings to help his daughter buy a home before picking up a nearby townhouse for himself. His goal was to find a place near his daughter’s new home so he could be close to his grandson. The townhome’s seller — Joe Roy of Meeting Street Homes — told WCNC that when the producers of My Lottery Dream Home reached out to him about having one of his homes featured on the show, he was happy to be a part of it. “We are big fans of HGTV so it was an honor to get a call from the show,” Roy said. “We are also very pleased with our townhomes … and wouldn’t miss the chance to give a tour to a national audience.”

Here's how much the average lottery winner is prepared to spend on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home

The lottery winners on HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home really do run the gamut, from six-digit scratch-off winners to the show’s most amazing win: the couple who banked a $180-million jackpot. With so much disparity in the amount of money won by the people who appear on the show, this puts series host David Bromstad to the test as he tries to locate ideal homes for a wide range of winners. This can range from price-is-no-object opulence to bargain deals.

The average winner who appears on My Lottery Dream Home, explained Bromstad in an interview with TV Insider, will wind up with about a million dollars, “so they’re looking for houses that are appropriate for their win.” According to Bromstad, these winners usually don’t spend all their winnings on a home, typically because they’ll use some money to pay off debts and gain financial stability. Most of them, he revealed, are also first-time homeowners. “They are living in condos, or renting a home,” said Bromstad. “So they’re paying off debts and then moving forward. To me, winning a million dollars just elevates your plans ten years.”

Why one lottery winner had "a blast" on HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home

Among the many winners to appear on HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home was Anthony Colligan of Louisiana, who won $2 million through his state Powerball lottery. As Colligan told the Acadiana Advocate, filming his episode entailed spending Mardi Gras weekend with host David Bromstad while looking for a new home in the Lafayette area. “I tell you, we laughed and cut up and had so much fun,” Colligan told the newspaper of the affable HGTV host. “I didn’t know he was like that. I did not know. I just started laughing and couldn’t stop.”

During their time together, Colligan and Bromstad took in a Mardi Gras parade and even went on a swamp tour, while the newly-minted millionaire also taught Bromstad the proper way to peel and eat boiled crawfish. “This was my first time hanging out with a celebrity, and it was a blast,” Colligan said, admitting that spending time with Bromstad also proved to be “good therapy” for him. “Because winning the lottery didn’t change me,” he explained, “but it changed the people around me.”

The host of HGTV's My Lottery Dream Home has some advice for lottery winners

HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home host David Bromstad has advised numerous lottery winners over the course of several seasons, and he revealed the most important piece of advice he shares with people who’ve just come into a lot of money. “Having a million dollars is not going to sustain you,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s just going to progress you.”

He pointed to the example of someone who had appeared on the show after winning a $4-million jackpot, spending $350,000 on a home even though “they could have easily run out and bought a million-dollar house.” He continued, saying, “They understood that money is about investment.”

According to Bromstad, his role on the show transcends real estate and home design. “They’re bringing me in because they’re stuck,” Bromstad explained. “It’s just the overwhelming amount of choices they now have. I tell them to take a breath and make this decision correctly and have good time with it. I treat them like a friend. We have the best time ever. It’s a love fest!”

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